In the middle of February I booked a trip, before this pandemic was announced. I booked an Airbnb with a strict no-refund policy: “refund applicable except the first 30 days.” My booking was for 34 days total.
Fast forward to the pandemic announcement and the panic that ensued by mostly everyone. Personally, I did not want to deal with self-quarantines, airport security measures, and quite frankly the risk of putting myself in a situation that could be avoided by simply not traveling so I proceeded to cancel my flights with no issues. I have cancellation insurance on my credit cards, so it was easily done.
Now the Airbnb host who happened to be from the same country as me but whose listing was in another one — pretty standard I’d think — said he would not refund my money due to a global pandemic. I read that and understood his rule, but he told me to contact Airbnb because they have some extenuating circumstances policy. I read something about an epidemic and being sick but documentation is needed: a doctor’s note or obituary when a global pandemic is announced.
I contacted Airbnb support via their magical robot, which had me wait 24 hours for a person, and proceeded to cancel my reservation. I thought I would be entitled to a refund due to a global pandemic, which to me fell into the “epidemic” category. Wrong. They said they needed documents such as a doctor’s note saying I was unfit for travel, not because it is in the public’s best interest to avoid crowded airports and in my case a crowded destination, with lesser health care, to avoid spreading COVID-19.
This was on March 9th. I continued to message Airbnb back and forth for the next couple days, eventually losing contact altogether because my messages became colourful.
Fast forward to March 14th. Airbnb announced (probably after most people panicked and cancelled reservations with certain cancellation policies in place) that anyone with a booking made before March 14th is entitled to a full refund via “manage my trips.”
Because I cancelled on March 9th and not March 14th I did not have this option anymore as my booking had already disappeared. I am now currently waiting for the same magic robot to let me know if I am entitled to any sort of refund, or if Airbnb plans on keeping my money altogether — which by reading some of these stories, would not shock me one bit. I have been waiting now 8 hours with only 16 left to see if I will get any money back .